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Blog Post|4 minutes

Solving Real-World Problems: You Spend How Much on Printing?

January 18, 2016

Doing a better job of managing your organizations printing represents a significant opportunity to save a big chunk of operational expense – estimated, in some cases, to be as much as 5% of your IT budget. As one analyst pointed out, printer ink now costs as much as vintage champagne – however, controlling this cost is not without its challenges. Especially when it involves changing the behaviour of an IT savvy workforce.

Traditional approaches involve controlling printing in a physical or a fiscal way; saving paper and toner by changing printer settings to default to duplex and draft quality, cross charging departments a per page usage fee, automatically deleting printer queues and so called ‘pull printing’ – requiring users to key in a pin code on the printer itself to save wastage and add a level of security.

The issue here is that this is all at odds with a user’s desire to print in the first place. It doesn’t address the core reason of why people want to print, nor does it offer a reasonable alternative. This then results in a classic displacement effect as the problem then goes underground in the form of shadow IT, a proliferation of personal printers, and the unintended consequence of higher costs and less control.

So why do people want to print so much? We see three main use cases; printing to edit, printing to read and printing to share.

Printing to edit: You’re in the middle of editing a large document and it become too cumbersome to track changes and compare against – so you decide to print it out, glancing at the printed copy whilst making changes on the screen.

Printing to read: There is an interesting article online which you print off because you prefer the clarity of reading it in a printed form.

Printing to share: You are about to go to a meeting and you want to make sure everyone is on the ‘same page’ literally so you print out copies of your presentation or the document to be discussed for every attendee at the meeting.

Printing to share has become less prominent with the proliferation of mobile devices. It is just as easy to bring in a phone or tablet to a meeting, but printing to read and edit remains widespread.

Nexthink End-user IT Analytics is all about monitoring IT from an end-user’s perspective. The insight it brings sheds light on how end-users are really experiencing IT – irrespective of what your service desk is telling you.

One application of this technology is in end user workspace design. End-user IT Analytics provides operational data such as workload trends and usage metrics about how services are being consumed and enables you to design the optimal service for a given use case.

So when you have an IT analytics solution in place, you start asking questions like, “What metrics could we use to understand the relationship between a particular workspace design and printing behaviour?”

Given the use cases of printing to read and printing to edit, a reasonable metric might be ‘users with more than one monitor’ or ‘users with a high resolution monitor’ and ‘pages printed a day’.

This is presented in one of the out of the box Nexthink dashboards shown below.


What this dataset shows us is that users who have either a second monitor or a high resolution monitor print less than those who don’t.

So armed with the insight and knowledge gained from this analysis, we can now construct a solid business case, make a targeted intervention (purchase additional or new screens for specific users), and do this in the knowledge that we can both reduce costs and improve the overall end user experience.